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Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem Hardcover – June 23, 2009
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From School Library Journal
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Readers know what kind of place they are in when the endpapers include ads for giant-squid repellent and shrimp-of-the-month club and the author and illustrator snark at each other in the dedication. Billy Twitters's room looks much as one might expect: unmade bed, piles of dirty and clean clothes, video games, books, backpack and stuffed toys everywhere. Billy's mom tells him plainly that he's to clean up his room and finish his dinner or "we're buying you a blue whale." He doesn't, and they do. While Rex never reveals the faces of the adults, he does provide nicely detailed diagrams of the size and habits of the blue whale (from FedUp, "Delivering Punishment Worldwide"). Billy has to take his whale everywhere, even though the whale kind of wrecks the classroom and moves Alexis to un-invite Billy and the whale to her pool party. However, the prospect of feeding his whale inspires Billy to a damp and fishy but very boylike solution to the problem of both room-cleaning and whale-sitting. Definitely funny and slyly subversive. Kirkus"
A headlong plunge into surrealism ensues when Billy Twitters's parents punish him by giving him a blue whale. The cleverness is in the idea's literal-mindedness--Billy thinking "I feel like something's watching me" as he eats his cereal, one very large eye visible behind him, and then hauling the whale to school on his bicycle. It's not supposed to make sense, and, amusingly, it doesn't. NYTBR"
Billy Twitters's parents don't mess around when doling out punishments. When the boy fails to clean his room, brush his teeth, and finish his baked peas, they buy him a blue whale. It arrives via FedUp (motto: "Delivering Punishment Worldwide"), and it's up to Billy to take care of it. Rex's goofy illustrations blend the realistic with the fantastic, as in a giant wordless spread of Billy pedaling furiously on his bike, towing the whale behind on a skateboard as the beast's bulk takes out telephone poles and traffic lights. At school, things don't improve; a teacher gives a whale lecture instead of showing a promised cowboy movie, and Billy is uninvited from a pool party when the hostess learns he would have to bring the cetacean. And he soon finds that gathering thousands of krill for its dinner is tough work. At last, after cleaning out the whale's stinky mouth, Billy decides that it's a pretty peaceful place, and he decides to move in. That's a strange ending for an odd story, but young readers will likely enjoy the ridiculous premise, and the many whale facts worked seamlessly into the tale. Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, Carroll County Public Library, MD SLJ"
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Top Customer Reviews
This book is GREAT! It takes exaggeration literally, and goes big, stretching reality in a way that reminds me of Roald Dahl. The book nudges the Clifford the Big Red Dog, and Danny and the Dinosaur genre, and says, really? Doesn't a pet that big smell pretty foul? And isn't it pretty inconvenient feeding your pet, say, 10,000 gallons of sea water daily? I laugh aloud every time I read it. The illustrations are vast, vivid, and just as clever as the text.
Don't miss the special offer under the dust jacket!
"Send us a self-addressed, stamped envelope (we call it a S.A.S.E.!) and we'll send you a blue whale.
My S.A.S.E. is in the mail!
The good parts: 1) the illustrations, like I said above 2) the book is definitely educational and taught my daughter a number of facts about whales 3) she loved it!!! But I was uncomfortable every time I read it to her. If she were 8 and not 2 that might be different.
The illustrations are amazing -- so expressive and funny and detailed.
The story line is a hoot -- buying a kid a blue whale to teach him responsibility.
The size of the book and the quality -- this is a BIG book.
It's hard to find a book that a babysitter and a kindergartener will both love. This book does it. Not to mention -- grown ups enjoy it, too.
There are a few bits of humor tossed into the illustrations that just really make this a five-star:
+ the end papers look like old-time Sears & Roebuck advertisements for products, but of course they are all nautical and hilarious. (Captain Sheepshank's Big Old Anchors: "We're Going Nowhere Fast")
+ A "Cetacean of a Tale"
+ Mom fumes and her head is a storm cloud. The parents' faces are covered with the words coming out of their mouths. That's a clever touch.
+ Jacques Cousteau
+ The delivery service is FedUp -- delivering punishments worldwide
+ Jacques Cousteau!
+ The whale gets sprayed with graffiti while Billy is at school.
+ The fold-out whale care instruction booklet looks like airplane emergency cards -- nice touch.
The ending is so great. Don't hesitate to get this one. It would make a great birthday gift for any kid -- ages 5 to dead, as my kids say.
I liked this book because it was a good mix of fantasy and fact. The author is funny, but he also teaches the reader some true things about whales. The pictures were good, the story was unpredictable, and mostly it was funny - especially when Billy tried to take the whale to school with him by dragging him along on a skateboard.
I did have a little bit of trouble connecting how getting a blue whale could be punishment. I love whales and would never clean my room or listen to my mom if it meant I could have a whale.
Boys and girls of elementary school-age who like whales would enjoy reading this book because it covers topics that all children enjoy.
Overall, I would give this book 5 stars.
Review by Young Mensan Summer H., age 6
Most Recent Customer Reviews
We like it. My son is three, and this is fun for both of us to read.Published 3 months ago by Melinda
SUMMARY: Every time Billy does not obey his parents, they threaten to get him a blue whale as punishment. He doesn't believe them because he doesn't think it can happen. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Sunshine on a Rainy Day
Love this book, but we we bought as a gift so we only got to read it once. Make sure you read the end papers! Read morePublished 11 months ago by Kathy Z
This was a gift to a co-worker's grandson who has considered me to be his personal playmate ever since he first met me about 4 years ago. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Saphie
Purchased as a Christmas gift for the neighbors boys and was told they really enjoy it...over and over.Published 12 months ago by James M. Stamm
Great lesson is being responsible without being preachy. Good illustrations for non readers for point and find activities. Easy reading for beginner readers too.Published 13 months ago by Patricia C. Wassel
I heard Mac Barnett on Ted Talks and so bought this book. The only bummer is that the 'buy a whale' address on the back of the book is no longer valid.Published 13 months ago by Nancy P.